I’m very pleased to report that a paper I began working on in September 2008 has recently been published, which is actually quite rapid as these things go. (If you need immediate gratification, a career in academics is probably not for you.)
The paper is called Categorization by Association: Nuclear Technology and Emission-Free Electricity. In the paper we (Raghu Garud, Peter Karnøe and I) analyze the categorization of nuclear technology from 1945 to 2010. In particular, we were intrigued to understand how a technology once categorized as an atomic bomb has been able to transform itself into a technology now considered as a potential source of sustainable and emission-free electricity. Of note, our paper draws on actor network theory and a sociology of associations perspective, and conceptualizes technologies as sociomaterial — that is, materially anchored, institutionally performed, socially relevant and entrepreneurially negotiated. Based on our findings, we consider some implications for our theoretical understanding of categorization processes. Specifically, we propose that it may be useful to re-conceptualize categories as a relational phenomenon. Rather than being established once and for all, categories can be understood as always in the making. We then suggest directions for future research that such an insight opens up.
The paper appears in Research in the Sociology of Work Volume 21: Institutions and Entrepreneurship, edited by Wesley D. Sine and Robert J. David. Other contributors to the volume include: W. Richard Scott, Howard Aldrich, Mary Ann Glynn, Candace Jones, Stephen J. Mezias , Theresa K. Lant, Paul Ingram, Jason Owen-Smith, Paul Ingram, Philippe Monin and others.
Along the way, my co-authors and I were privileged to have presented working versions of the paper at a number of conferences, including the European Group for Organization Studies Colloquium (July 2009), the Medici Summer School in Management Studies (July 2009), the Wharton Technology Conference (April 2010), the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (June 2010), the Cultural Entrepreneurship Network Workshop (June 2010), the Academy of Management (August 2010), and the West Coast Research Symposium (August 2010).